Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 27, Tuesday July 8, 2008




Body beautiful

(Part 2 of last week's Centre story)
She walks into the café, flipping back her sleek, straight hair, and slides gracefully into her seat, crossing those impossibly long legs. Seated across the room, the other girls stare at her, roll their eyes, and exchange grins in complicit disapproval of the new arrival. Inwardly, each of them is thinking I wish I looked like that.

"Spartans! Tonight we dine in hell!"

With a loud roar, the three hundred bare-bodied warriors surged forward, muscles gleaming in taut perfection. The boys stare at the screen, mesmerised, and each of them sits up a little straighter, tucking in that wayward tummy, squaring those round shoulders. I wish I had a body like that...

Any of these scenarios sound familiar? How many times have you found yourself looking in the mirror and wishing that you could change the way you look? If it makes things any better, you're not the only one. Everyone, even the most beautiful person you can think of, has at least one peeve about his/her looks. Cameron Diaz, her of the endless legs, had once expressed on Oprah that she wished she had more curves, while the Godfather himself, Marlon Brando said "I have eyes like those of a dead pig".

Body image, or the way we perceive our own bodies, goes a long way towards how we feel about ourselves in general. This perception is oftentimes shaped by opinions of others, and images we see in the media. Society's conventions have always been shifting, while we struggle to conform to impossible ideals of beauty, often running terrible risks. Consider the age of the corset, where women had themselves strapped into vise-like contraptions that squashed their innards into unnatural configurations. Even in today's 'thin is in' times, in an attempt to achieve the wraith-like figures popularised by the media, women are resorting to fad diets and even surgery, running into diseases such as bulimia and anorexia. Even the men aren't spared; modern ideals of masculinity have them hitting the gym, pushing and pumping in the often-vain hopes of attaining a Stallone-like physique.

On the other hand, image is important. A well-maintained physique, proper grooming, and smart clothes go a long way in creating a favourable impression that could mean anything from your next promotion to even a sales boost. What is one to do?

Luckily enough, one positive side of the globalization of media is that one is exposed to different cultural images of beauty. Buxom beauties like Beyonce have shown us that real women don't have to be live skeletons to be sexy; dusky skinned damsels like Lara Dutta have given the lie to the adage that the 'fairest of them all' had to be fair-skinned. Similarly, stud-muffins like Vin Diesel or Tom Cruise have proved that a man can be vertically challenged or even bald and still be attractive.

The first step towards achieving a positive body image is to accept the limitations of your genes. All those glossy celebs you see on television and in the magazines look good because they have a team of specialists hired specifically to get them looking good, but don't take our word for it. Check out the 'Dove Commercial' video on youtube.com for a real eye-opener on the glam industry. The point is, you don't have to be the next Kate Moss or John Abraham to be beautiful. As long as you're healthy and well groomed, more than half the work is done for you. Last week, we looked at ways in which clothes can maximise your assets and downplay faults. This week, we work on the inside stuff and look at ways in which you can boost your fitness level and be beautiful from within.

Each person, man or woman, essentially belongs to one of three body types, based on metabolic rates. There's the Ectomorph, who is that perennially skinny person who could eat a cow and still look starved. These people are lean, flat-chested, small-shouldered, and fragile-looking, and take a long time to gain muscle. Mesomorphs are those muscular people with great posture, who quickly achieve results from body-building. Finally, there are the Endomorphs, who are a bit on the round side, and have trouble losing weight. Different body types respond differently to both training and nutrition. As a result, it is incredibly important to be aware of what your body type is so that you can design a training and workout program accordingly.

The average height of a woman in Bangladesh is 5'2", so depending on her frame size, a good weight range for her, according to the Health Discovery network, would be between 108-143lbs. The average height of a man here is 5'7" so again, depending on his frame size, he should aim for a weight range between 138-168 lbs. One way to determine which category you fall under, and basically, the first step before choosing a fitness plan, is to have your Body Mass Index (BMI) calculated by a trained nutritionist, who essentially measures the ratio of your height to your weight to determine whether or not your weight according to your height is ideal. It is a good indicator of the fat levels in your body. Make sure you consult experts about your body type, BMI, and other factors such as blood pressure and disease history before you pick a weight management program.

We caught up with Syed Faisal Rahman, the Chief Instructor at Ratan's Fitness Club, for a quick chat about exercise. Rahman received his physical education training in Pakistan, and came to Bangladesh in 2004, and has been at Ratan's since. The first thing he told us, after giving yours truly a real dressing-down for being "too skinny", was to stress on the importance of a regular exercise regimen. "Exercise isn't just about losing weight. The body is built of muscles, and these need to be maintained through exercise to improve their performance. Also, a good workout improves blood circulation and clears the mind."

Exercise plan:

Rahman has his own names for the three body types: obese, muscular, and skinny. He has some general tips to go with each body type.

If you are on the heavy side, with a rounded body and find difficulty losing weight, start off with cardio and aerobics. Opt for 4 times per week of high and low intensity exercise. This gets the heart ticking, limbers up the body and burns calories. You could walk, jog, use the treadmill, cycle and try basic aerobic exercises. As your body begins to adjust, incorporate toning exercises into your plan, and complement with light weight-training.

If you are athletic and have good muscle definition, you can lose weight easily or gain lean muscle fast. It takes very little training to make you look fit and healthy. Opt for 2-3 times of moderate intensity exercise per week. Supplement with weight training 1-2 times per week focusing on all muscle groups.

For those who are lean, and long-limbed with very fast metabolism, you can get away with eating anything and still not gain weight. Your body fat levels are low and you have difficulty gaining weight. Start with low intensity exercises thrice a week, 30 mins at a time. Add to this, weights thrice a week, working the whole body and combining light and heavy weights.

General tips:

* Allow a gap of 48 hours between each workout to allow muscles to develop. Alternately, you can work different muscle groups on different days.

* Always wear proper supports (like belts) when working with weights.

* Eat protein-rich foods within 20 minutes of exercise to build muscle.

* Don't drink water within 30 minutes of a meal. Fat cells in the body absorb the water and add bulk.

* Do not take diet supplements unless instructed by a physician. These have side effects.

* Avoid heavy food immediately before or after exercise.

A balanced diet, proper rest and exercise go a long way in developing confidence and a positive body image. When all is said and done, good health, good hygiene, and a positive attitude are all you really need to look beautiful just the way you are.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Check It Out

Aarong's birthday bash

HAVING established itself as a household name over here, and a sort of handicraft and lifestyle ambassador abroad, Aarong completed its 30th year of operation on July 5 this year.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a press conference held at the Shuruchi Restaurant at the Brac Centre. MA (Rumee) Ali, Managing Director of Brac Enterprises officially launched the 30th anniversary logo. Tamara Abed, Director of Aarong & AAF gave the inaugural speech, where she outlined Aarong's plans for the upcoming month. The celebrations include an exhibition series, Part I of which is titled “The Story of Stitches” and focuses on the art of Nakshi Kantha, and will take place between July 15-29. This will be preceded by a preview showing on July 9, as part of the Aromatic Gold Dhaka Fashion Week 2008.

Part II of the Exhibition series focuses on jamdani, the date for which will be announced later. An Eid Preview fashion show has been scheduled to take place at the Radisson Water Garden Hotel on August 27 this year.

There's also great news for Chittagong patrons of Aarong. A new outlet will be opened at Halishar Chittagong. Boasting an extensive display floor of 7000 sq ft, the new Aarong Halishar offers more convenience and a better shopping experience for its customers.

So watch out for more exciting events and offers throughout the year from Aarong.

By Sabrina F Ahmad


adisson Water Garden Hotel, Dhaka offers a fruity delight as they host "Seasonal Fruit Promotion" from 5 July through 10 July, 2008. Diners at the weeklong food promotion can indulge themselves in a rainbow palette of colorful succulent tropical fruits and delicious dishes prepared from fruits. Throughout this week, chefs of Radisson will be preparing delicious fruit based cuisines from all over the world, ranging from delicious salads, tantalizing main course to delectable desserts.



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